The heatwave has broken.
Stores are open and the vacationing Italians have returned.
Prior to the end of summer, I hadn't found the driving here to be as bad as its reputation. I have even driven. It was confusing with all the roundabouts and cutting over the median and all, but it was more Pole Position than Mario Kart, for which we are all grateful because I am really bad at Mario Kart.
However, now there is a truly significant increase of residents in Rome. And not only are they all driving at the same time, apparently they are all driving to the same destination. Mike is becoming pretty awesome at Italian-style driving and he can almost kill us as well as any of the natives. Which is good, because if you aren't willing to kill someone, you should really take the metro. Although it is going to be a huge mess the first time we have one of the motorini splayed across our windshield. I don't think the windshield cleaner-off-er guys at the stoplights are going to be able to adequately clean that up before the light changes. We'll probably have to sit through at least two green lights and everyone behind us will be angry and honk and drive around us but then they will see that there is a former scooter driver on our car and they will nod to us sympathetically for our delay.
The difference, however, between a traffic jam in Italy verses one in America is that the Italians never stop moving their cars. In America we sit and wait and wait and wait and then we get out of our cars to see what is going on and then we get back in and wait some more. Except for those jerkies who drive on the berm and you hope a police officer sees them and that they get pulled over because they are cheating and should be stuck and miserable like the rest of us. And I have to admit that the lack of rules in Italy, or at least the lack of obeying them, seems to truly work. The absence of courtesy and polite obedience means that everyone continues to juke for position and in this, somehow the entire herd progresses. I hate to say it, but the Italian system just works better. Think how much faster a traffic jam on the Schuylkill Expressway would be if you could just refuse to acknowledge lanes or accidents already in progression and anyone merging just pushed their way in and no one waited their turn and no one politely waved another driver to go ahead. At the very least you would feel better and victorious every time you successfully snaked another driver.
And you know all those times that you are stuck at the longest red light in history and you are running super late because you really wanted to see the ending of the Real Housewives of New Jersey because you had to know if Joe had finally been caught cheating on Teresa and you look around and you just know that you could run that red light because there isn't another soul in sight, but you don't because you know it's wrong and/or you can't afford to lose any more points on your license? See, the Italians don't let that Catholic guilt stop them. They see a red light and if there is no one coming, of course they are going to drive across the intersection. And when you see that happen, you realize it makes perfect sense and if you would have understood that before moving to another country, you would have gotten to see the ending of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and now you will never know what happened because Italy doesn't have that television channel.